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Thread: New LIII string tension and bridge question.

  1. #1

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    New LIII string tension and bridge question.

    Got my new Luke 3 BFR yesterday. Beautiful guitar and awesome fit and finish but....

    I know these necks take some getting used to although I do have an EVH Wolfgang (floyd rose bridge) with a similar neck and frets that I'm used to already (although the L3 neck feels even smaller). Here's my issues. I hope someone can steer me in the right direction.

    1. String tension is too stiff. Bending is very difficult on this guitar. My Wolf's strings feel like spaghetti compared to these. I'm using EB Hybrid Slinky's (9-46) on the wolf and the L3 came with EB RPS Slinkys (9-42). How can I loosen the tension? It's even worse than my strat.

    2. I feel like I'm going to slip over the string when bending.

    3. I'd like to lower the bridge angle (get the tail of the bridge closer to the body). I usually deck vintage bridges but I'd like this one to have a little float for Jeff Beck style vibrato. I know how to lower the bridge but I don't want to cause an issue with tuning stability. I can't believe how well it stays in tune after a lot of whammy usage. Amazing.

    I really want to love this guitar but it may be going back if I can't resolve these issues.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2

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    Lukes usually have a 2 spring setup from the factory. IMO, that has the most influence on tension other than string gauge. Since you already have 9s on the guitar see what is happening on yours. You can lower the bridge angle and you will need to set up the guitar properly after doing so. Probably the biggest difference in feel is the string spacing and neck between your two guitars.
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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lou View Post
    Lukes usually have a 2 spring setup from the factory. IMO, that has the most influence on tension other than string gauge. Since you already have 9s on the guitar see what is happening on yours. You can lower the bridge angle and you will need to set up the guitar properly after doing so. Probably the biggest difference in feel is the string spacing and neck between your two guitars.
    Mine has two springs. The string spacing feels fine it's just the bending and the feeling of slipping over the string that bothers me.

  4. #4

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    I just spoke with a tech at Music Man who stated that if I lower the angle of the bridge (close to decking it) it will ease up on the stiff feeling of the strings. Anyone have any experience with this?

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by IceCreMan View Post
    I just spoke with a tech at Music Man who stated that if I lower the angle of the bridge (close to decking it) it will ease up on the stiff feeling of the strings. Anyone have any experience with this?
    Yes, that is true.

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  6. #6

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    Thanks for the confirmation Tollie. I will set it up tonight and see how it goes. Really want to love this guitar.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by IceCreMan View Post
    Thanks for the confirmation Tollie. I will set it up tonight and see how it goes. Really want to love this guitar.
    Please give the Luke III a chance. You will be glad that you did. I find the body and neck to be very comfortable and the boost is really excellent.

    2018 Axis - BFR - Buckeye Burl
    2017 Morse - BFR - Dark Lord - Tahitian Blue
    2017 StingRay 5 - 30th Anniversary - Buttercream
    2013 Albert Lee - BFR - Pinkburst
    2013 Luke III - PDN - emerald green sparkle with an all rosewood neck
    2012 Morse - BFR - Dark Lord
    2012 Axis - PDN - Honeyburst
    2011 Axis - BFR - Black Sugar Roasted
    2009 Axis - Pink Quilt (Oinky)
    2006 StingRay - 30th Anniversary fretless
    1996 StingRay - 20th Anniversary

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tollie View Post
    Please give the Luke III a chance. You will be glad that you did. I find the body and neck to be very comfortable and the boost is really excellent.
    I certainly will give it a chance. It is certainly by far the most comfortable body I've ever played and the neck is awesome, I just have to get used to it. Hopefully a set up tonight will really take care of things. Either way I'm going to give it a good week or two of solid playing before making any decisions. It really is the nicest made guitar I've purchased.

  9. #9

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    I love my Luke. Really versatile.
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  10. #10

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    Update: I spent about an hour last night bringing the bridge down and getting things re-adjusted (saddles etc.). When I was done I still had enough float to pull up a full step and no more stiff strings. MUCH better now. Bends are no longer a problem and I don't feel like I'm going to slip off the strings. What a difference a little adjustment makes. I played for about an hour and it feels tons better, intonation is perfect and it seems to be holding tune very well after some whammy action.

    It'll be getting a full workout at band practice tonight.

    I set the action at 4/64" on the 12th fret per Music Man's FAQ. What height does everyone else typically set a Luke III action? Just curious.

    Thanks a bunch for the help guys!

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tollie View Post
    Yes, that is true.
    Why is that so? Is there a technical explanation, or may I just have to accept that that's the way it works?
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firesource View Post
    Why is that so? Is there a technical explanation, or may I just have to accept that that's the way it works?
    Somebody is mistaken. I don't see how it would make any difference. Hold on tight boys and girls, guitar physics is fun!

    The strings and springs both pull on the bridge, just like a tug-of-war being played around a corner with two ropes fixed to a door (except one rope is weakly elastic guitar strings and the other is a few stiff trem springs). If the forces (i.e. tensions) from the strings and the springs are different, the bridge will move towards the bigger force (because it's pulled that way). If tensions are balanced the bridge will stay stationary. That means that for a floating bridge, as long it is free to move but stationary the trem springs are necessarily at the same tension as the strings.

    With me so far? Cool.

    Now let's change the claw position to change the angle of the bridge. Specifically let's imagine we tighten the claw screws. The claw moves backwards, the springs are pulled backwards with it, pulling the bridge with them. That bridge motion stretches the strings a little too. That increases the string tension (raising the pitch). That extra string tension counteracts the extra pull from the springs, perfectly maintaining the balance between spring and string tension, even though the tensions have increased. A change on one side produces a perfect change on the other side to maintain equilibrium. Nice!

    But we now have to retune to the strings to maintain standard tuning (because we're no longer in tune). The strings are sharp so we have to loosen them. In doing so there is now less force on the bridge from the strings. This allows the springs to pull the bridge back even more. But the claw, i.e. one end of the springs, does not move, so spring extension now decreases. Less extension means less pull, relieving spring tension and matching the new string tension. Sweet!

    We have now successfully changed the angle of the bridge, the strings are in tune so we're at the same string tension as when we started this little tug of war. That also means the same spring tension as when we started. Clearly, adjusting the spring claw to change the angle of the bridge only shifts the physical position of the bridge while the tension of strings and springs stays unchanged. String bending will feel exactly the same.

    Now, once the claw is adjusted so that bridge is decked, the bridge is in contact with the guitar top. As we tighten the claw screws a little further the springs are now being stretched but the bridge can't move backwards any more. Greater spring extension = more resistance to string bending. The bridge will move less when we when bend strings and everything will feel stiffer too.

    If we tighten the claw screws enough, we can add enough spring tension to completely counter the extra tension we apply when bending strings. In this case the bridge does not move at all when bending and the guitar will feel just like a hard tail. Tightening the springs even more makes no difference at all (other than potentially marking the paintwork by pulling the bridge down into the finish it's resting on, which is why I don't recommend tightening the claw any more than necessary).
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  13. #13

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    Amazing explanation!

  14. #14

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    i was just about to explain the theory, but DrKev got there before me...

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrKev View Post
    ...String bending will feel exactly the same.
    That's the thing, string bending doesn't feel the same. It's now easier to bend. Keep in mind I did not deck the bridge. I can still pull up a full step. I found an explanation on why it feels easier to bend when the bridge is lowered but can't remember now what it was although I do remember something about the break angle of the strings as they pass over the bridge. The sharper the break angle the easier the bend.

    My best guess is that because the bridge is at less of an angle relative to the strings you're not dragging the bridge up and stretching the springs when bending. Basically I don't have to bend the string as far which means less tension to achieve the same pitch.

    All I know is my strings feel slinkier and it's now easier to bend. I'm a happy camper.

    Thanks for a very good explanation Dr. Kev.

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